Breaking Down Your Personal Silos

Accountability Collaboration Organizational leadership


Key Point: Let’s fix our own personal silos first. Organizations are not living creatures, but like the word “government,” they seem to take on a persona. It’s like there is a big puppet master in the clouds somewhere, pulling all the organization strings.  A common phrase we often hear regarding company behavior is: “The organization has too many silos…” Or “the company is too silo’d.” In fairness, this is often an accurate assessment because people in institutions can act in a fragmented, disconnected, and conflicted way. However, it is worth reminding each other that WE’RE the collectives of how we individually think and act in the workplace. So in that regard it may be worthwhile to reflect on the importance of fixing our personal silos first. After all, if we can’t look at ourselves as a whole system, how can we navigate our contribution in organizations in a systemic, connected way? 

Ok… The following is a bit “heady” for my little old blog. Yet I wanted to introduce you to a more spiritual look at this matter of personal silos. Richard Rohr is a best selling author, who also happens to be an Ecumenical Franciscan. I happen to believe the essence of his reflection is found in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and/or many other religious/philosophical perspectives too. Here is what Rohr shared in his daily meditation, Aug. 6, 2014 (the beautiful day my granddaughter was born). He describes the behavior and thinking of people who see things holistically (non-duel) versus those who are dualistic or divided. Read his entire meditation if you want a more comprehensive explanation.

“Non-dual people will see things in their wholeness and call forth the same unity in others simply by being who they are. Wholeness (head, heart, and body all present, positive, and accounted for) can see and call forth wholeness in others. This is why it is so pleasant to be around whole people.

Dualistic or divided people, however, live in a split and fragmented world… Fragmented mind sees parts, not wholes, in itself and others, and invariably it creates antagonism, reaction, fear, and resistance—“push-back” from other people—who themselves are longing for wholeness.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Learning how to best contribute to a whole system starts with our ability to see ourselves in our wholeness. That’s why developing our own self emotionally and spiritually (and physically) is necessary to fully serve in any organization. Where are you on your personal wholeness journey?  
  2. When someone fires out salvos about fixing the silos in the organization, take it as a gentle reminder that we each need to work on fixing our own personal silos too. 

Personal wholeness in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: If any group of people wants to work in less of a “silo” mentality, it’s probably millennials… And since we may not have the leverage to spearhead a plan to help increase overall “wholeness” yet, it’s the perfect time to concentrate and develop our own first.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

It’s Not My Fault But it’s MY Problem!

Accountability Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: If you want a simple and straight forward way of describing “leadership,” then embrace the title of this blog: “It’s not my fault but it’s MY problem.” This is the essence of the “self-accountability” leg of the Character Triangle. It is always refreshing and even inspirational when one runs into someone who leads themselves this way. And it’s a gateway for earning the ability to effectively lead others. You and I do NOT need a formal leadership role or title to think and behave like this. We just need to ignore fault or blame (which is different from the importance of determining root cause) AND take responsibility to work the problem confronting us. Could you imagine how much better customer service and life would be in the world if people consistently practiced this mantra?

You may or may not like Maureen Dowd‘s op-ed in the Sunday New York Times. It is usually entertaining if not right on point. This Sunday August 2, she reminded me of the importance of acting versus explaining and concludes her provocative column this way: 

“The Bushes did not want to be put on the couch, but the thin-skinned Obama jumped on the couch at his news conference, defensively whining about Republicans, Putin, Israel and Hamas and explaining academically and anemically how he’s trying to do the right thing but it’s all beyond his control.

Class is over, professor. Send in the President.” 

I remember a challenging situation in my career where I was positioned to lead, and for a variety of excuse driven reasons, I chose to explain more, rather than act more. I definitely did not cause a major problem in this Fortune 50 Company, but I certainly had a formal and informal mandate to lead. I missed an opportunity to step into a vacuum that was waiting for my strength of conviction and action. It took years and much personal reflection for me to understand that I chose to explain more than lead in that situation. I have taken that personal leadership lesson forward in everything I do. What the organization was saying to me at that time was (which I did not fully recognize): “Class is over… Send in the (LEADER).” Ouch! 

It may be unreasonable and perhaps even unfair that people (as Dowd painfully points out) want Barack Obama to lead more than explain. However, this is the essence of leadership and most of us respond and are inspired by those who lead themselves first by taking action to “work the problem.” We usually do not expect a “silver bullet” or even trust that Big Bang approaches are effective. But we typically rally around people who methodically and tenaciously move matters forward because of a self-declaration to “own” the challenge. When we explain while accelerating matters forward, it is understood as context. The height of the formal leadership perch is most often related to the complexity and difficulty of the problem. If you want to be a leader, practice taking on the little problems every day and eventually you will earn the privilege of leading on the big juicy ones. Unless you like to stop at, “it’s not my fault.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Think about whether you embrace the principle, “it’s not my fault but it’s my problem.” How much is this the guiding premise behind all you do? Or are you better at explaining to emphatically ensure people understand that “it’s not my fault and therefore it’s not my problem.” 
  2. Work it! Take a self-accountable approach to every problem. Ask yourself what you can do about it. As the self-accountable chapter in The Character Triangle emphasizes, it’s the “what, how, by when” response and action YOU personally take that makes the leadership difference. 
  3. Step into the void. Remember that timing is important too. There is an opportunity window as problems arise. Powerful leaders know how to fill that vacuum with confidence and assurance at the time others are on “stand-by.” Do you do that? 

It’s MY problem in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: There’s nothing more disappointing than seeing a leader display a lack of action and instead point fingers… It seems almost cowardly. I love learning this lesson early. Thinking back to high school football, we’d talk about the type of people we wanted “in our foxhole.” You want to step into the huddle with people who attack the problem and derive a plan for a solution, not rely on another squad to get the job done. The office is no different than the gridiron or a foxhole in that regard. Let’s all make the problem ours despite what/who may be at fault, and win together. 

– Garrett Rubis 

Edited and Published by Garrett Rubis

Time to MIND Your Own Business

Accountability Happiness Well-being


Key Point: Our capacity and will to be intentionally mindful is a mental framework that is becoming more imperative than ever. Why? We live in uncertain, disruptive times, with all the associated opportunities and difficulties. The only certainty is that there is no certainty in our work, finances, relationships and day-to-day living.

So the ability to focus on control of our mind is necessary for the self-awareness required for enlightened leadership and daily resource navigation. For those cultures and proponents of meditation, this is no surprise. However, this may be advanced thinking for many western organizations and employees. What about you? What are your daily meditation skills like? How do you employ them? 

One of the leading voices encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has been Gopi Kallayil, Google’s Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing. Kallayil tells the following poignant story: 

“Once, in a very challenging work situation, a colleague at Google pulled a coin out of his pocket, a family heirloom from his grandfather, embossed with an image of the American bison. The bison is a denizen of mountains and valleys where snowstorms are swift and brutal. My colleague told us it’s the only animal that will turn toward the storm, lean into it and walk to meet it, which is why Native Americans call it “Faces the Storm. It knows instinctively that if it does this, it will be out of the storm sooner. That’s not a New Age, wishful view, but an evidence-based one.  There’s a growing body of research and growing recognition of how meditation, yoga and other contemplative skills can enhance well-being, healthy stress response, creativity, problem solving and performance at work. We’ve offered Search Inside Yourself (SIY) trainings to Google employees for over two years now, and they tell us it’s changed their lives. It’s certainly helped make Google a more dynamic, and I believe, a more successful company.”

Ok… Google is Google but there seems to be rapidly increased interest in the value of contemplative skills. ABC’s “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris, has authored a book entitled 10% Happier and it has been on the Times best-seller list for months. Harris depicts himself as a tough-minded pragmatist, who struggles at even having to cover religious events for ABC News. Yet he states his mission explicitly in the book’s preface: “Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem. If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain.” 

In a recent New Yorker article, Jacob Rubin, weighed in on meditation and specifically 10% Happier:

“Harris soon discovers, meditating is exceedingly hard to do. Its sheer difficulty makes it resonant with the values of capitalism. It requires ‘genuine grit’ and can give you a real advantage. He (Harris) approvingly quotes a Georgetown professor who has helped to bring mindfulness training to the Marines: ‘There is nothing incense-y about [meditation].’ Harris’ metaphors are practical, hygienic, and often financial. He compares it to brushing one’s teeth. Meditation yields a good ‘return on investment.’”

Character Moves:

  1. Learn how to mediate develop and practice mindfulness. This is now an imperative skill for people who want to be better leaders of themselves, others, AND their business. Frankly, I believe in today’s world, it is way more important to practice mindfulness than lowering your golf handicap. 
  2. Practice yoga, meditation, and other mindful enhancing activities during day-to-day work time. Why? It will help you lead better and the data/research underpinning this statement is convincing.  (Model this for your teammates).
  3. Learn to be like the bison by always facing the storm. The turbulence ends sooner and better that way. 

Best regards, 


Edited and Published by Garrett Rubis

One Millennial View: Oh, who hasn’t tried yoga in one form or another by now? I happen to be anti-incense, anti-chant, anti-make-noise, anti-hum… No judgment on anyone who likes those things, but all those would get in the way of “my meditation.” Regardless, anyone who has ever done some sort of stretching or calming exercises to their preferred customization knows that you leave the session with a better sense of being. I also believe that meditation can come in the form of everything from a good run to a game of golf… Whatever your preferred method of “meditation,” go for it.

– Garrett Rubis